The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner

Thirteen year-old Kirby "Zig" Zigonski loves science, technology, and tinkering with gadgets that he finds at garage sales and in trash bins.  When his real estate developer father fails, once again, to come for a scheduled visit with his son, Zig pesters his mom for answers.  Working as a waitress while going to nursing school, this single mom evades her son's questions with promises that all of his questions will be answered soon.  Zig decides to use an old GPS unit to find clues at area geocache sites that he believes his father is leaving for the boy as a way of explaining his absence.  Without disclosing the real motive for his obsession for these missions, Zig persuades his friends Gianna and Ruby to help in the searches.  When Zig and his mother are evicted from their apartment for nonpayment of rent, the consequence Zig learns of his father's ceasing to make child support payments, he is determined to keep his friends and teachers from learning this truth as well.  After a brief stay with Zig's aunt and her overbearing, abusive husband, the pair move into a community homeless shelter.  Zig's bonds with Gianna and Ruby, his growing affection for a young boy at the shelter, and his awareness of his mom's determination to make their lives better provide a foundation for hope.  Combining the geocache elements of The Book Scavenger with the stresses of homelessness explored in Crenshaw, this book is a particularly good choice for classroom discussions on empathy and the reality that we often do not know the challenges that even those closest to us are facing.  The inability of one of Zig's teachers, in particular, to perceive the changes in his dress, his demeanor, and his academic performance is particularly insightful.  The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner will appeal to fans ages 11+ of titles like Crenshaw, How to Steal a Dog, and One for the Murphys.

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